As housing costs increase renters & affordable housing advocates react

By WBOK Staff

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As advocates push for more affordable housing in New Orleans a study by two Florida universities says the city is among the most overvalued rental markets in the country.

On the streets of New Orleans, it does not take long to find people who say they are paying a lot for rent.

“Our last few months we’ll still be at a reasonable price but we’ve heard that there’s insurance increases,” said Mary Teeler. “Currently, we pay about $2,500 and they’ll up that to $3,700, so yeah, definitely difficult to accommodate. We’re looking at houses uptown now for that reason.”

 

Sophia DeNucci, another renter, walked her dog in the CBD on Wednesday around lunchtime.

“I think that I got a COVID price on my apartment, so I think I pay a lot less than people living in my building but I do think it’s a bit high for where I’m living,” she said.

Andreanecia Morris is executive director of HousingNOLA which works to solve the city’s affordable housing problem.

“The housing market, in general, is overpriced and really inhospitable to the average New Orleanians,” said Morris. “What we should be striving for is a market that is affordable for everyone who lives here for housing that is well within their means and that’s not what we had, and we haven’t had that for a while.”

 

The pandemic has worsened the situation.

“It’s certainly gotten worse and folks are, some people are misunderstanding things like inflation. Housing costs drive inflation,” said Morris.

Florida Atlantic University and Florida Gulf Coast University used past leasing data from Zillow to model rental trends and rank the 25 most overvalued rental markets. Miami and Fort Lauderdale rank #1 with an average rental price of $2,832 and New Orleans ranks 15th. Its average rental price is $ 1,517 monthly and should be $1,340, according to the report.

“We’ve maintained that for a long time. We’re glad to see finally industry experts and academics really reinforcing this,” said Morris.

 

And Morris said high rent makes it difficult for many people to become homeowners.

“Absolutely, one of the things that we have loved to lean on as we’ve disparaged renters is when there’s been high prices is saying, you know, you should go out and buy a house, you know for what you’re paying in rent you could have a mortgage when that’s not true, especially as interest rates are going up, especially as home values have increased and insurance costs have increased,” said Morris.

High costs impact homeowners, too.

“It is stripping wealth from New Orleanians and that’s what we have to stop,” said Morris.

 

She thinks government, at all levels, needs to do more.

“And regulate the market as it stands. We’ve got to be doing things like encouraging people to take advantage of programs, we’ve got to actually have these government-run programs function correctly,” said Morris.

She said landlords need assistance too.

“The delay in getting COVID relief, landlords are nervous about federal subsidy programs,” Morris stated.

 

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